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Subject: Incredible 2nd set. One of the best of the year!
While the first set is fairly unremarkable, save a solid Sugaree, the second set of this show is a monster, easily holding its own with the best of the month, like 5/1 or 5/6. Lay Me Down is beautiful as usual, but things really take off with a magnificent Scarlet>Fire, surely one of the best of the year, even in this month of superlative versions left and right. The transition is just absolute melodic bliss. The other heavy hitter of this set is Playin'. Lots of awesome interplay, especially leading up to the transition into drums. But Jerry is the MVP here, playing absolutely mind-bending warp speed space noodles until your brain implodes. Now, I'm not huge on most PITB after '74, but this is honestly one of the best I've ever heard. Drums/space is drums/space, but the Wheel is a tearjerker and the Playin' reprise comes in hot. Very nice China Doll as well. The rest of the set is standard fare, but with all of the ridiculousness that came before, it hardly matters. Hear this at all costs.
chris phillips -
Subject: Fine China
This is a solid show like many in 1981. Scarlet Begonias, To Lay Me Down, Playing and China Doll are nicely played. Jerry is more into it than the rest of the band IMO and why wouldn't he be. China Doll brings the show to 4 star level, despite 18 minutes subsequent minutes of relative drivel.
Cornell was the best show of this swing though IMO.
First set was not so good IMO. Second set was better but there are many superior shows to this one from this time period. Good sound but not perfect. I bet this sounded pretty bad before Charlie remastered it.
Subject: Slightly diassapointing show from an underappreciated year.
After listening to several shows over the past week from '81, this show fell short for me. The first set in particular was a little blah. With the exception of the Row Jimmy I don't think any of these songs really popped. Althea, Lazy/Supp and Don't Ease were solid but not spectacular. Also, Minglewood's sound like a patch from another, inferior source.
Second set is better, however IMO. Very good Scarlet/Fire and as stated in another review, excellent '70s style Playin with a really nice Wheel and China Doll to go along with it. I did a little bit of searching in Dead Base to find that the Wheel and China Doll were played several times in the '80s within close proximity to one another, but also saw that Playin' was also usually crow barred into the mix, most of which are bookending Drums/Space in one way or another.
Rest of second set is so so. Bobby's vocal stylings are annoying on Around and Around as well as Good Lovin', CC Rider is not a favorite of mine and while the Lay Me Down was a nice rendition, the source seems patched to the same source as the aforementioned Minglewood. Not horrible, but not soundboard. Overall, a little bit of a let down in comparison to some other shows in the same '81 year IMO.
L. Rosley -
Subject: Great Scarlet
Fairly typical for 1981 for the most part, but with some real nice spots. El Paso is sloppy, but the band recovers on Jack-a-Roe. Beat It and Althea are tight. There is some nice Jerry jamming towards the end of Supplication. Scarlet is outstanding, as is the early-'70's-style Playing in the Band. The Wheel>Playing is also good stuff.(Actually, the Wheel and China Doll were pretty common in this period.)
The show ends will some dull renditions of standard rockers. Bobby is acting weird on Around and Around -- he's obviously bored with it, and the result makes you want to hit Delete. Good Lovin' is a shadow of what it once was. Satisfaction, fairly common for this period, doesn't really get started.
Purple Gel -
Subject: Great show from an underappreciated year!!
Another Gem from 1981, a very overlooked year in the annals of the Grateful Dead. By this time, Brent had settled in and become an integral part of the sound, and the band was gelling as a unit the whole year. To me this was one of the best years that I saw them ('77-'95)
This show has a very solid first set with a really nice Minglewood > Sugaree > El Paso, a fairly rare (for that time) Jack-a-roe Solid Row Jimmy and Lazy Lightnin>supplication> Don't Ease.
The second set, however, really shines with a groovin Scarlet > Fire, and a sweet To Lay Me Down. The jam is absolutely epic, one of the years top Playin's > Drums followed by a near perfect Wheel>Playin>China Doll. I always loved those rare shows where they played Wheel and China Doll.
All in all a wonderful night of Grateful Dead and a great example of 1981. I give it a 5 for the music and 4 1/2 for a very nice sbd.